Women's Business Ilene Kantrov | Neb Hseb Notes

Women's Business Ilene Kantrov

Women's Business by Ilene Kantrov Summary This essay is about some women from the United States of America who have been successfu...

Women's Business by Ilene Kantrov
This essay is about some women from the United States of America who have been successful in business. The women were not just businesswomen, however. They did things to make people better educated on the issues and problems facing women. They also did things to help other people. However, their interest in making money was usually more important than their interest in improving society. Many of the women used advertisements which were incorrect. For example, Lydia Pinkham, who was in favour of stopping people from drinking alcohol, sold a product that was, itself, as alcoholic as whiskey or raksi.
The women mentioned are:
Lydia E. Pinkham (the image of Grandmother): In 1879 Lydia Pinkham was selling a medicine that she had invented herself. It was called Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. Her advertisements claimed this medicine could cure many different difficulties faced by women.
Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden (glamorous socialite): These two women were rivals. They sold make-up. They were also married to rich and famous men (aristocrats) from Europe.
Margaret Rudkin (Grandmother): She began to sell additive-free whole wheat bread food that she first used to help her asthmatic son.
Jennie Grossinger (Grandmother): She owned a successful resort hotel
Gertrude Muller: She sold things to help people look after their babies. She put small books explaining her ideas in the packages of the things she sold.
Annie Turnbo-Malone (Social activist): She was a black American. She sold a chemical that claimed to make hair look nice. She also began a school known as Poro College to train people how to use her products. She said this school was for the improvement of black people.

Which of Lydia Pinkham's business methods did later women capitalists adopt for their own enterprises? In what ways did they depart from Pinkham's model?
Like Lydia Pinkham, the other capitalists sold their products and wanted to show their customers they were doing activities to raise their social and economic life. Most of the customers were mostly women. Lydia Pinkham's methods were practical. For example, she used her advertisements to champion women's rights, temperance, and fiscal reform. She also encouraged women to seek guidance from women physicians and gave practical suggestions about diet, exercise and hygiene. Similarly, Arden sold make-up products but also gave advice on nutrition and exercise at her salons. Helena Rubenstein also did the same: she sold cosmetics like Arden but she also expounded the benefits of eating raw food. Thus, these two women like Lydia thought they were providing other women with something more than a product. Most capitalists also used their image cleverly in their marketing activities. Jennie Grossinger, like Lydia, managed to remain the 'grandmother' in the eyes of her clients. Her hotel business was very successful. Another woman, Margaret Rudkin built a successful career in food industry by making additive free wheat bread to supplement her husband's income much like Lydia did when she started making herbal preparations to supplement her husband's real estate business.
However, Lydia unlike Arden and Rubenstein did not put on a glamorous outlook. She did not marry any aristocrat(s). Rubenstein and Arden, on the other hand, developed their image of glamorous fashionable women. Lydia, through her product and clever marketing campaign became a pioneer woman in the history of American business. She claimed herself to be the "Saviour of her sex", which was extraordinary as other women like Grossinger, Annie Turnbo-Malone and Helena Rubinstein were philanthropic and showed more concern to women cause than did Pinkham. Pinkham sold alcohol while she was the advocating against alcohol use. Thus, Pinkham combined marketing with socio-economic transformation in the most successful manner of all female entrepreneurs. However, there are more similarities among these entrepreneurs than there are differences.

How did the businesswomen the writer introduces in her essay differ from their male counterparts? In what ways did they resemble male entrepreneurs of their day?
Women differed in many ways from their male counterparts in many ways. The first difference was in their approach: the male contemporaries were more motivated by profit and their business had no room for social service, whereas women cleverly complimented profit motive with service motive. Women like Lydia E. Pinkham, Helena Rubinstein, Jennie Grossinger and Annie Turnbo-Malone were exemplary in their social drive. Similarly, women capitalists did businesses that catered to female tastes, and these businesses grew out of traditional women skills. Thirdly, women entrepreneurs cultivated a certain image in order to advance their businesses and establish their position among fellow women. Thus, Lydia Pinkham, Margaret Rudkin and Jennie Grossinger acted like grandmothers in their respective businesses. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden created an image of glamorous socialites, and Turnbo-Malone that of social activist. Thus, women entrepreneurs had two roles in the society. One was business women and the other was mothers or grandmothers or fashionable women. However, there were many similarities of these women entrepreneurs to those of the male counterparts.

Although women entrepreneurs aimed to serve as well as sell, however, these businesswomen frequently put profit ahead of altruism, and like male counterparts they made extravagant and misleading advertisement claims about their products and services that regulating bodies like FDA and FTC had to intervene or take stern actions against them. Rubinstein was forced to withdraw some medical claims she made for her products. Also their feminine ideals they loved so often did not go very well with the realities of the marketplace, where they acted as businesswoman, not as ladies.

What is the thesis/main idea of the essay?
The thesis of the story is that business women in the USA tried to help women, as well as make money by selling things to them. Often, their methods of helping women, for example, through advice, helped them sell more products. They combined clever marketing effort with strong social activism.


Women’s business presents a main idea that business women were much successful in America. They are much popular too. Their production and business benefited many people in different ways. Business women were involved in producing some useful things to women like cosmetics. They produced not only useful things to women but they also suggested and helped to cure womanly problems like nervousness, hysteriabarrenness, and so on. In America business women like Lydia E. Pinkham, Elizabeth, and Jennie Grossinger were very much successful and they earned a lot of money by selling their products by means of advertisements, suggestion and inspiration. So, in conclusion, the essay Women’s Business expresses that women can do as good a business as men can, and they can get success in business with the help of media and their own ingenuity. tools. (From an ex-student)

How would you expect a militant feminist to react to this essay? Are any of the writer's general statements debatable?
A militant woman is someone who shows a fighting disposition without self-seeking. She would express great satisfaction at the way the women entrepreneurs of America combined social activism into their marketing effort. She would support their innovative marketing techniques to make profit but she probably wouldn't like extreme claims like the ones made by Lydia E Pinkham, who made extraordinary claims of Vegetable Compound of being "the greatest remedy in the world." She would appreciate the effort of Lydia Pinkham and Margaret Rudkin who started their businesses as a support to complement or support their husbands' income. She would be inspired by their effort to market their homely skills to great profit in the marketplace. She would support social marketing efforts like temperance and fiscal reform as well as advice on nutrition, exercise, hygiene, thriftiness, and diet, however, she would hate marketing techniques like the Department of Advice that encouraged women to seek medical attention from female physicians only. She would consider this as a sign of weakness, and an impediment to greater goal of female independence from psychologically imposed barrier. Likewise, she wouldn't appreciate Elizabeth Arden's facial treatment system that used painful procedure to get glowing feminine skin. She would be happy with the skin she has got, and not bother to get an extraordinary one to show it to a male. She would find it all right to create a certain image to further her business. She would praise Turnbo-Malone's effort to uplift black women's life and to make them economically independent so as to create a discrimination-free society, but she wouldn't like the publicity stunts of Elizabeth and Helena who drew attention to themselves through their marriages to European aristocrats. She would marry a man who understands her rather than looking for a man from an aristocratic background. Finally, she would like women to go beyond the businesses they are good at traditionally and make foray into all kinds of businesses, especially those that have been traditionally male's territory.

What was Lydia Pinkham's cleverest marketing technique?

Lydia set up the Department of Advice, and then encouraged women to bypass male physicians and seek guidance from woman. She also gave practical advice on diet, exercise and hygiene. She endorsed her herbal medicine too.

What does the writer's use of the slang word booze contribute to the essay's conclusion?

Booze refers to any alcoholic beverage, like whiskey, and this word is used in informal setting. Also, this word is popular slang word used very often by alcoholics. Even, (non-) drinkers refer to people who consume alcohol boozer. Traugot's essay is based on social science research, and she has included real facts, statistics and case studies. Her reference to Lydia Pinkham in the start of the essay serves to provide a serious purposeful tone, and as we read through the pages we learn more about Lydia – how she started a business with her brother and how she made $200,000 by 1881. Lydia E. Pinkham's advertised and sold her herbal product, Vegetable Compound very aggressively. She became a folk heroine: the subject of popular songs, jokes, and bawdy jokes.
Marsha Traugot is trying to take us back to that time and stir some memory of her time by referring to the same product as booze. Indeed, Lydia had added 40 proof alcohol to her home-made untested product. By giving this fact, Kantrov also succeeds in telling the readers the marketing adaptability of women entrepreneurs and dissolve the ladylike quality much associated with women.  Kantrov may be trying to lighten the mood of the essay. She wants to end the essay on a comic note so the tone is comic and satiric. Also, because she started with Lydia in the beginning, she wanted to end with her. Thus, the organic unity is maintained. In the first part Lydia's clever marketing innovations and her success are mentioned, but, at the end, we see the scheming and profit-driven businesswoman.
 Raj Kumar Gautam, Araniko HSS, Biratnagar - 13, [email protected]; September 13, 2013



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Neb Hseb Notes : Women's Business Ilene Kantrov
Women's Business Ilene Kantrov
Neb Hseb Notes
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